There are few things more enjoyable than fine dining, and if you’re anything like me, a delicious meal is simply not complete without a glass of merlot, pinot or the most creative cocktail on the bar menu.
Of course, no one can deny the fact that drinking with dinner adds calories to your total meal – I’m not complaining about that. However, it turns out alcohol can sabotage your meals and nutrition in other ways, too. Knowing exactly what alcohol does to your waistline might help you make healthier choices next time you’re out.
Fact: Booze makes you hungry
You might feel kind of full (and tipsy) after you’ve had a pre-dinner cocktail, but alcohol might actually make you eat more. Not only are you consuming lots of calories for little physical satiation, but alcohol suppresses leptin, a hormone that tells your brain when you’re full. As most of us know, it also tends to suppress inhibitions, making that extra order of fries or dessert seem like a much better idea than it really is, especially since booze tends to make you crave carbs.
Fact: Drinking while eating can prevent fat-burning
This is not true across the board, but here’s where this fact comes from: when your liver is processing the byproducts of alcohol, your body puts the processing of nutrients on the back burner temporarily, burning low-nutrient calories first. This means that you are probably consuming more calories than you burn, so those excess calories can stored as fat.
Plus, studies have shown that two standard cocktails can lower your fat-burning process by 73 percent. So if you’re noshing on high-fat foods or you have some fat to burn before you started drinking, now is probably not the time it’s going away.
Fact: Alcohol CAN be part of a healthy diet
Let’s be honest, no one WANTS to give up a relaxing glass of wine or a tasty, refreshing cocktail. And you don’t have to. If you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol may add calories to your diet, but it’s all about moderation. If you’re counting calories, try to account for the 200-plus that you’ll be consuming with that glass of wine at dinner.
Alcohol doesn’t have to kill your diet, but it might also improve it! Many of us feel that red wine is good for the soul, and it’s actually good for your heart, too! Red wine has antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been found to protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Wine also has a polyphenol called resveratrol, which studies show prevents damage to blood vessels, reduce bad cholesterol and prevent blood clots.
In fact, The Mayo Clinic reports there isn’t any clear evidence that red wine is better than other forms of alcohol – liquor, white wine or beer – when it comes to health benefits, so long as they are all consumed in moderation. But red wine seems to get the prize when it comes to heart health.
Fact: Drinking while eating might actually be better for you
There is a common misconception that it’s best to consume alcohol after the meal, not during it, but this is not true. In reality, it’s probably better to booze while eating a healthy, balanced meal to decrease your level of intoxication (which can prevent you from making those not-so-healthy choices later).